Zion Community Cafe is well-loved Cafe in Bristol that runs a large variety of community events, children’s groups, support groups, ticketed events and provides spaces to hire for meetings, groups and private events. They used Community Shares and the Community Ownership Fund (COF) to save their venue.
The previous owner of the social enterprise building decided to take a step back during the Covid-19 lockdown. They offered the community the opportunity to purchase the private building, saving the space for future community use and opening it up for more opportunities and development.
However, if the community could not raise the funds required for this purchase, the building would be put on the private market and result in yet another vital asset loss for the Bedminster Down area of Bristol.
To ensure they could take ownership of the centre, some brilliant volunteers and a team of residents set up a community benefit society and launched a community share offer to raise the capital.
Zion Community Cafe received £240,000 from the Community Ownership Fund (COF) – a central government levelling up fund. In August 2022, they successfully raised £234,908 from their community share offer, which included £25,000 match funding from the Community Shares Booster Fund, run by Co-operatives UK. The sale completed in April 2023.
There were 370 investors, 288 of whom came from the immediate area.
The Community Centre generates profit through its community café, alongside hall and room hire for private events. They hold 200 events a year, including hosting local community interest groups for free.
“We would not be here without the share offer and COF funding. At one point we were considering a mortgage. When we started crunching the figures on the mortgage, we realised we would not have been able to survive six months. We’re proof that you can save an asset. We’re an area where things are always being taken away and not being replaced. So it’s a big boost for the local community that we can affect change and save assets – it’s an empowering thing.”
Emma Moore, Centre Manager, Zion Community Cafe, Bristol
“Co-operatives UK were delighted to support Zion Communtiy Cafe through our Booster Fund and see them reach their investment goals and secure the long term community ownership of the building. Community Shares has enabled them to raise more affordable finance, lever in other investment and build a strong base of invested community supporters. We were really impressed with range of activities and community support this unique space provides.”
John Dawson, Head of Market Development and Investment at Co-operatives UK